Loneliness is one of the most common problems addicts face in recovery.
Our substance abuse treatment center in Pompano often advises these individuals to distance themselves from friends they used to drink or do drugs with to avoid relapse. However, we also know that making new friends isn’t always easy, and long-term loneliness can be even more dangerous. That’s where a pet would come in. Pets are loving companions that stay by your side through thick and thin. They can steal your heart with their unique qualities and special personalities. If you’re recovering from addiction or know someone who is, read on to learn some of the benefits of owning a pet in recovery.
What Are the Health Benefits of Owning A Pet in Recovery?
There are many health and emotional benefits of owning a pet in addiction recovery. They can increase the opportunities to get active, get outside, and just be silly. This combination of exercise and companionship can also decrease blood pressure, alleviate stress, and decrease cholesterol levels. We even offer pet therapy at Banyan Pompano because of how beneficial animal companions can be for recovery. After undergoing addiction treatment and achieving sobriety, you’ll need long-term support and relapse prevention strategies that can help you stay on track. Here are the top 5 health benefits of owning a pet in recovery from addiction.
1 - Pets Encourage Exercise
Having an active little companion can keep you moving and on your toes. Their excitement to get outside and jump around can motivate you to do the same. Even if you don’t buy a dog, maybe your pet bird would enjoy being perched on your shoulder while you do yoga, or your pet lizard may soak up the sun while you do an at-home workout in the yard. Not only can exercising with your pet improve your mood, but it can also decrease your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and stress levels. Whatever your pet or situation may be, seeing their joy of being outdoors and being active can also spark the same interest in you.
2 - Pets Offer Companionship and Emotional Support
When it comes to offering unconditional love, pets are at the top of the list. Millions of videos, TV shows and movies about pets demonstrate their loyalty and limitless love for their owners. Pets offer emotional support not only because you feed them (which is a great incentive for anyone, honestly,) but also because they can sense when you’re upset or sad. According to the HOPES project at Stanford University, pets can develop in-depth communication systems with people, making them great listeners and companions. They’re also intelligent enough to develop a routine with you and pick up on verbal cues. And as a bonus, they’re just so darn cute.
3 - Pets Give You Purpose and Responsibility
Transitioning back to a sober lifestyle after rehab is hard. Finding yourself in recovery can be difficult after you’ve battled with addiction for so long. You may be struggling to get the hang of your new routine or figure out what the next move is. Pets are an added responsibility that encourages you to be wiser emotionally and financially. Having a dog, cat, or even pet lizard forces you to take on tasks related to your pets, such as exercise, bathroom time, vet appointments, and grooming. Having an obligation to care for another living thing opposes the selfishness caused by addiction. One of the major benefits of adopting an animal is developing responsible behaviors and compassion for others. It’s also a great form of practice for the future when you want to start dating or even have a family. Not only can owning a pet in recovery soften a heart hardened by drugs or alcohol, but it can also provide a sense of purpose and direction.
4 - Pets Can Help You Socialize
A big part of recovery is building new relationships, and pets can help. The bond formed with a pet encourages socialization and positivity. Taking them to a dog park or out for a walk can also allow you to spark up a conversation with others. Emotional healing in addiction recovery can also be supplemented by the unconditional love and support that animal companions can offer.
5 - Pets Can Help to Increase Your Self-Esteem
People who are getting out of drug or alcohol rehab often fear or face judgment from others. This can increase their stress and even discourage them from staying sober. Any lack of support from friends or family may make them feel as if they’re always doing something wrong. After going through a period where you thought that you were constantly making the wrong decision, it feels good when you develop self-confidence. Pets offer the emotional support and unconditional love you may not receive from the people in your life. The responsibility of caring for them also gives you a sense of purpose and achievement. When your pet is happy with how you’re caring for them, then you’re happy.
Picking the Right Pet
Here are a few things you should consider before jumping into the commitment of owning a pet.
- Can you afford to care for it? (Includes food, medication, vet bills, etc.)
- Do you have the space for the pet you want?
- Do you work a lot or spend a lot of time out of the house?
- Are you willing to sacrifice sleep and time to care for your pet if they need to use the bathroom or if they get sick?
- Are you physically able to care for your pet?
- Do you have allergies? (Hypoallergenic pets are your best bet)
- If you live with other people, are they all agreeable to getting a pet?
Adopting or buying a pet is a huge responsibility. This living thing will rely on you to care for it for the rest of its life. We only encourage you to make this decision if it’s something you want and something you feel will benefit your sobriety.
At Banyan Treatment Centers Pompano, we offer a wide range of drug and alcohol rehab programs that have helped numerous patients make their way to sobriety. If you’re in need of addiction treatment or have a loved one who is, call us now at 888-280-4763 to speak to one of our team members.